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Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday said Democrats in the Senate could “pick up a seat or two” in 2012, The Hill reports.



“If I had to bet money on every single race where an incumbent Democrat is running —and trying to be objective, and betting all the money I had— I’d bet on the Democrat in every single race,” Schumer said Wednesday at a event sponsored by the Third Way thinktank.

It's not everyday that the U.S. Attorney General and director of the FBI stand at a press conference and accuse military officials in a foreign country of plotting to assassinate an ambassador to the United States.

But that's just what happened Tuesday, when Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller went before the cameras at the Justice Department and laid out the details of an alleged plot to kill the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, involving a Texas-based Iranian-American named Manssor Arbabsiar.

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Herman Cain has officially made it into the top tier of GOP candidates: he elicited a verbal jab from Vice President Joe Biden.

In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Biden argued that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would hurt the middle class.

“As I understand it, it means a billionaire would pay 9 percent of their income and somebody who is making $40,000 would pay 9 percent of their income,” the VP said. “That’s standing on its head what Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, had in mind when he proposed a national income tax that would be progressive. But it’s totally consistent with Republican philosophy, that what you continue to do is, continue to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires and continue to add a burden on the middle class.”

After an agonizing week of arm-twisting, and a vote that had to be held open for hours, Senate Democrats got their act together. But only barely.

A full 51 of them voted as a bloc Tuesday, not to pass President Obama's jobs plan or even to break a GOP filibuster of the bill, but simply for the proposition that the Senate should publicly debate the most pressing issue in the country.

That wasn't enough to prevail. Under the Senate's obscure rules, simply debating a piece of legislation often requires 60 votes. And two Dems -- Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and John Tester (D-MT) -- voted with all 46 present Republicans to block the debate from happening altogether. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also switched his vote to "no" at the last moment, but only as a procedural trick that allows him to bring the jobs bill up for another vote in the future.) But it was enough for the Dems to claim a partisan GOP minority is blocking meaningful action on the economy.

Indeed, that the vote failed was entirely expected. The point of Tuesdays vote was to allow Dems take a message to voters: With unemployment over 9 percent, Republicans unanimously snuffed out the the only bill on the docket that promises to significantly boost the economy -- without even allowing a debate on it.

"Republicans unanimously voted against our nation's economic health to advance their narrow political interests," charged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a blunt official statement. "Republicans blocked a bill that would put nearly two million Americans back to work. And they voted against this job-creating bill despite previously supporting many of the ideas it contains, such as tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses."

But the outcome wasn't an unambiguous victory for Democrats. Though politically useful it exposed, in tortured fashion, the fundamental strategic incoherence that has defined the party since President Obama took office in 2009. Despite the simple nature of the proposition -- Should we debate a jobs bill? -- it took Democrats until the 11th hour to round up a bare majority support and avoid shooting the entire party in the foot. And that difficulty bodes poorly for the real, substantive fights -- over taxes, entitlements, the very shape of the country -- that lay ahead between now and the 2012 elections.

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In case you missed Tuesday's GOP debate, here's a quick summary: Herman Cain likes talking about his '999' Plan.

He's also been fond of touting the "Chilean Model" for privatizing Social Security -- pitching it as a series of free-market, private savings accounts. But in fact, whether he and his conservative fans realize it or not, Cain is in fact embracing the kind of policy prescription that they have been railing against on certain other subjects throughout this whole campaign.

Progressives might instinctively dislike the 'Chilean Model', due to its origins: It was enacted by decree in the early 1980's, during the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, to replace a Pay-As-You-Go public pension system (the sort of thing that has Rick Perry calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme."). However, this fact alone should not necessarily disqualify it -- after all, violent street crime was illegal in Pinochet's Chile, but that does not mean laws against violent street crime are bad.

But more importantly, Pincohet left office way back in 1990. And after more than 20 years of democracy -- nearly all of it under progressive administrations of one stripe or another -- the system has simply not been repealed. (However, there have in fact been significant changes, supported across the political spectrum, to increase the government's role and the coverage for lower-earners -- reflecting genuine problems that people have had with the system in practice.)

However, despite the regime that originally imposed it, the overall system has ultimately met with at least some approval from the Chilean people, though it is far from perfect and remains a work in progress. Therefore, the Chilean system does merit at least a close examination on its own merits. But as it turns out, Herman Cain and his fellow Tea Partiers might not like what they find.

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The trial of a man accused of trying to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day 2009 enters its second day Wednesday, Reuters reports, with testimony expected from a passenger who witnessed the alleged botched attack.

In the wake of a bloomlet around a possible New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ® presidential candidacy, the Jersey Gov’s popularity has jumped with Garden state residents, who are showing some pride in him. Most of those polled said that Christie was the man to beat in the presidential race, but are perfectly happy that he didn’t choose to make a go of it. From Quinnipiac:

“New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie would have won, Garden State voters say, but they back his decision not to run for president 8-1. They seem glad to be stuck with him and give him a 58 – 38 percent job approval rating, his best score ever, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. A big swing from women lifts him from a 47 – 46 percent score August 17. ”

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